Real-time streaming is transforming the way we consume entertainment, and in particular how we watch sport.
Our sporting apps are now becoming some of the world’s leading examples of real-time sports consumption. In fact, Telstra is now streaming live sports content to a massive base of around 1.2 million devices each weekend and sports fans consume 37 million minutes of live content over our apps on any given weekend.
This increase brings new challenges to the way traffic on our mobile network is managed. Even though a large group of people might be streaming the same real-time content at the same time, we still need to ensure a high quality streaming experience for our customers.
This challenge makes our sporting apps a prime use case for LTE-Broadcast (LTE-B).
Earlier this year, we announced we would be turning on LTE-B functionality on the AFL Live Official app for Telstra customers with Samsung Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S9 devices. Following extensive testing, Telstra is the only operator in Australia – and one of the first in the world – to deploy LTE-B into its mobile network.
At a live demonstration in Sydney, over 100 Samsung Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S9 devices were on display showing simultaneous high definition content from the AFL Live Official app using LTE-B.
At the same time, a second batch of devices delivering the content by conventional unicast showed how normal networks can be saturated with demand leading to lower quality and stalling of content.
Telstra has continued to invest in network capacity and optimise our network to meet the demand for video sporting content for subscribers of the AFL, NRL and Netball Live Passes. Last year we announced 1.5 million subscribers and that figure is continuing to increase.
Now, we have integrated LTE-B technology into the AFL Live Official app, which is delivering better quality video and audio experience for broadcast content, even in high traffic areas.
LTE-B technology is currently exclusive to the AFL Live Official app on Samsung Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S9 devices. More devices and applications will be added over the coming months.
Today when a large group of people in the one area want to watch the same content on their smartphones or tablets at once, individual content streams of data are sent to each individual device (i.e. one to one). With LTE-B, we can send that content via a single stream of data to many mobile users in the one area at once (i.e. one to many).
In this way, we can provide a better quality and more seamless video and audio experience for customers who are all trying to do the same thing at once, even when they are in high traffic areas like in a CBD location, shopping centres, and hospitals or actually at the match itself.
It is a pretty simple concept, but it has the potential to be a game changer for game watching, as it not only frees up network capacity to improve the experience for everyone using it, but it will enable Telstra and our partners to deliver richer video experiences.
It could even be extended to things like software and app updates, emergency alerts, real time traffic and road updates to autonomous cars, and even preloading the most popular new episodes of your favourite TV show ready to watch on the train trip to work.